According to the evaluators, the Baltic Sea Region Programme is “a very good example of how to carry out a transnational cooperation programme.” It is seen as “a strong transnational programme which contains a real depth of clarity from objective formulation to delivery.” The Programme was based on an “excellent intervention logic” and delivered “concrete results across all main priorities.”
The evaluation concludes that most of the programme’s achievements contribute to institutional capacity building on a macro-regional level. Especially highlighted are its achievements in supporting international cooperation of SMEs and research organisations (priority 1) as well as interconnecting transport networks and making transport corridors “greener” (priority 2). In relation to the Baltic Sea as a common resource (priority 3), the know-how in dealing with nutrient flows and hazardous substances have been strengthened. For priority 4, the field of integrated energy planning shows the strongest results.
The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, which was adopted in 2009 after the launch of the Programme, had a very positive impact on the Programme. It provided a political arena for exchange, communication and awareness raising. In total, 49 of all 90 projects supported by the programme showed a clear link to the Strategy.
The evaluators conclude that the Baltic Sea Region Programme was the most accessible platform for transnational cooperation in the region. Many projects served as a starting point for wider transnational pan-Baltic cooperation. In contrast, attempts to integrate transnational aspects into other national or regional European Structural Funds programmes failed due to incompatible structures and timelines.
Some recommendations are also provided by the evaluators. For example, they suggest continuing the communication and raising awareness of the programme as a high priority. Furthermore a stronger involvement of decision and policy makers at regional and national levels is proposed. Other barriers identified by the evaluators, like the non-eligibility of profit-making companies and the non-involvement of Russian partners, have been (or, in the case of Russian partners, are about to be) removed in the new programme approved in 2014.
The full text of the ex-post evaluation case study on the Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013 can be downloaded from the Commission’s website. It is part of “Work package 11 - European Territorial Cooperation”.